At least one Iowa beef company can export its product to China.
Iowa Premium, a beef processor in Tama, received notice that it was certified from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thursday, CEO Jeffrey Johnson told The Gazette. He said the company has worked on the certification process for the past two weeks.
U.S. beef producers have waited 14 years to re-enter China, which is expected to become the largest beef market in the world. China banned beef from the United States after a disease scare in 2003, but announced last September it would look to lift those restrictions.
“We’ve been watching this as an industry since it’s been banned,” Johnson said. “Any beef company has been anticipating this.”
Johnson said Iowa Premium hopes to ship two containers of its beef to China within the next few weeks. A container, he said, holds about 40,000 pounds.
Iowa Premium eventually would like to ship five or six containers a week, or about 800,000 pounds a month, he said.
“Of course, that takes a while,” Johnson said.
A list of eligible beef suppliers to the USDA listed only a handful of companies that are able to export to China as of Thursday. Iowa Premium was the only Iowa company listed, while a handful were based in Omaha, Neb. and two were based in Kansas.
The first shipment of U.S. beef, hailing from Nebraska, was sent to China last week. Former Iowa governor and now U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad will slice into a piece of U.S.-made prime rib in Beijing during a visit by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.
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